A little while ago Scott Hiney did the good work of calculating up the total distance traveled by FC Dallas this year when the 2019 schedule dropped. It was pretty sobering to look at considering that if Dallas did all of their playing with Southwest, then every player would qualify for Southwest’s A-List program on those flights alone.
This got me thinking about what about this for the rest of the league? ~36,000 miles is a lot, but how’s that compared to other teams and which teams have it easiest in terms of travel, and who’s got it the worst? (Spoiler: it’s Vancouver.)
Before I reveal the total distance traveled, here are some caveats to consider which based on my Supporter’s Section Prices piece, a good chunk of you will not bother reading, but it’s still worth noting.
- These are distances from airport to airport, not stadium to stadium.
- This just accounts for the regular season. So no Cup games, pre-season, friendlies or playoffs.
- I’m assuming and calculating for teams to take direct flights. There will be times when a bus is more practical, but for simplicity, I’m assuming everyone will be flying.
- I am also assuming teams will head back home after the game. There will be times when teams will just stay gone because they have a mid week game followed by a Sunday game. I’m not accounting for that because I’m not their Team Administrator and frankly, that’s just a ridiculous amount of work to factor in.
- Also, I’m using a different tool to measure distance than what Scott used. There’s a slight variation on what he quoted (36,816) and mine (36,688) but that’s a difference of less than 1%. If you’re going to get up in arms about that, then this post isn’t for you and you should also see a counselor.
Going the Distance
Unsurprisingly, Vancouver will have the most distance to cover in 2019, nearly doubling Columbus’ miles traveled.
Here it is in table form if that’s easier for you to look at.
MLS Team Distance Traveled
Some Fun Numbers:
- Farthest Travel: Vancouver to Orlando - 2,624 miles one way (5,248 round trip)
- Shortest Travel: 96 - Philadelphia and New York (excludes teams based in same city)
- Most 1,000+ One Way Trips: Vancouver (13)
- Total miles traveled by Eastern Conference Teams: 391,066
- Total miles traveled by Western Conference Teams: 512,062
- Difference between conferences: 120,966 or enough miles to do a round trip ticket to Europe.
- Average distance for entire league: 37,630
- Average distance by Eastern Conference Team: 32,589
- Average distance by Western Conference Team: 42,672
The Eastern Conference certainly has an advantage when it comes to away travel, though it’s hard to say how much of a difference traveling 1,000 miles versus 2,000 miles really makes. I’m assuming there’s a threshold where the affects negligible after a certain point of miles traveled or hours in the air, but that’s currently unknown.
Either way, we’re looking at teams averaging about 4,700 miles/month in terms of travel during the regular season. Though the salaries are not nearly as high as they are in Europe, you can add “Airline Status” to another added perk of being an MLS player.